International Day of Italian Cuisines

IN DEFENSE OF THE ITALIAN “PRIMO PIATTO”

by Luigi Cremona – Italian Wine and Food writer


Gennaro Esposito´s Spaghetti al Pomodoro, Torre del Saracino Restaurant. One of the 10 great Italian Spaghetti that one must try at least once in life, according to Albert Sapere.

Spaghetti al dente with tomato sauce and basil

I am very happy for the dish chosen for the International Day of Italian Cuisines 2014.

It’s the most Italian of all recipes and it’s a recipe on which we must think about. We Italians too often are very good at dispersing our heritage, including the gastronomic one. We have invented recipes that the entire world likes for their flavour, their goodness and their healthy contents, though we very often dissipate their value with highly questionable methods and procedures.

The most common mistake in Italian restaurants, especially those abroad, is in the way chefs manage the first course, “il primo piatto”, commonly a pasta dish, which in Italian cuisine is NOT a main course. They are scared of giving the customers a small portion, as it should be. In order to justify the price of a dish that doesn’t contain expensive ingredients (like spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico) they overact by adding scampi o pigeon breasts in bellavista to the pasta, put too much filling in the fresh ravioli, and end in transforming un “primo piatto”, which is a kind of introductory light course, in a main course or even a one-dish meal.

The primo piatto, literally first dish, is the part of the meal that better identifies Italian cuisine and we should defend and preserve it. We must recover, if we ever lost it, the pride of offering spaghetti dishes where spaghetti are truly the first and predominant ingredient of the recipe. All the rest we include in the dish must be a complement, a not invasive, moderate enrichment, a condiment that must be naturally absorbed by pasta, which at end should not sadly and uselessly float in the plate.

I hope that the next 17 January can be the opportunity of recovering the right measure with the preparation of a recipe (spaghetti al dente with tomato sauce and basil), considered amongst the most simple of Italian cuisine, but if made with the due attention and preparation is one of the most flavourful.